My friend Dawn of “She Is Too Fond of Books” gave me a copy of “Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English” one day when we were having tea together. I started this book, then lost it in my bedside pile of books, finding it again and finishing it recently. I just loved this charming novel which was originally published in Great Britain as “Mr. Rosenblum’s List”.
In this story, Jack and his wife Sadie, along with daughter Elizabeth, have come to England as German Jewish refugees during WWII. He is given a list created for refugees of ways that they can acclimate to life in England. Mr. Rosenblum takes this list to heart and adds items of his own of what a “proper English gentleman” should do. His wife, Sadie, however, still holds emotional ties to Germany and her lost family there. Over time Jack builds a business, shops at the “right” stores, and acts and dresses like an Englishman. His final quest is to join a golf club. However, being Jewish, entry is denied to him again and again. Being a resourceful man, Jack takes matters in his own hands and decides to build his own golf course. He moves his family to Dorset and begins to single-handedly – and by hand – put in a golf course in the wild English countryside.Will his determination see him through?
I just loved this charming book, which is actually based in part on Ms. Solomons’ grandparents experience. While it was humorous, it was also poignant. Sadie’s difficulties in letting go of the past and her willingness to stand by Jack, against her better judgment, was touching. Seeing Elizabeth grow up into a Englishwoman, fully acclimated to her new country, made me think of how many families had similar experiences after the war. But Jack is the hero of this book. You can’t help but root for him as he realizes that friendship and acceptance and identity are all things that can be cultured, but that also come undeniably, in part, from within.